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Of course Elon Musk loves shooting robots in Overwatch

Of course Elon Musk loves shooting robots in Overwatch


He wants to destroy sentient robots more than anyone

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Elon Musk's schedule is usually filled with things like inventing new transport methods and trying to convince people to die on Mars, but the Tesla CEO and self-confessed hot tub user took some time tonight to tweet his appreciation of Overwatch, Blizzard's newest multiplayer first-person shooter.

It might seem surprising that Musk finds the time to even play video games these days, what with Tesla, SpaceX, and everything else he has going on, but if he's going to play something, it makes sense that it's Overwatch. Blizzard's game is set in a cartoony future shaken by a war between humans and the sentient robots they created — exactly the kind of nightmare scenario Musk envisioned when he set up the OpenAI nonprofit last year in a bid to stop reckless development of artificial intelligence that would rise up and enslave us all.

Well, maybe it's not exactly the kind of scenario Musk imagined. He probably didn't think there would be ultra-smart talking gorillas involved, likely fewer cyborg ninjas, and the idea of a climate scientist who can turn into a human-sized block of ice might not have factored into his calculations. But in terms of the complexities of human-robot relations, Overwatch has the kind of nuanced take we might have to consider if Google, Facebook, and other tech giants keep pushing forward with their AI development.

The self-improving robots in Overwatch's world are called Omniums, and just like in Musk's apocalyptic proclamations, they were created by a huge corporation that valued relentless technological advance over all else. The Omniums were ordered to be deactivated, but as sentient beings, they woke themselves back up and started a campaign against the species that had tried to wipe them out — humans.

Musk probably didn't think there would be talking gorillas

The struggle known as the Omnic Crisis was defeated by Overwatch — an elite team made up of the characters you play in the game — but there's still tensions in the relations between the remaining robots and humanity, as detailed in Blizzard's short Pixar-esque animated movies. The game takes place in 2044, a time by which some people in the world have embraced the Omniums, while other countries still resist, forcing them underground and assassinating their leaders.

Musk said last week that he wasn't "afraid of robots," but the billionaire inventor has made no secret of his fears of a future in which humanity plays second fiddle to AI creations. Overwatch gives him an outlet to take out his worries on digital embodiments of those robots, rather than having to wait until humanity invents artificial intelligence and then have to worry about the ethical ramifications of ending a sentient's life. Keep shooting robots, Elon — especially the infuriating walking turret Bastion, whose stupendously powerful turret and Scrappy Doo celebrations make him Overwatch's most irritating character to play against.